We Love Our Community

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We Love Our Community

The current red tide bloom presented many challenges for Sanibel Sea School’s summer camp team, with water conditions unsafe for swimming in many locations around the island…

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Sanibel Sea School Campers Learn About Gators, Needlefish, and Algal Blooms

The harmful algal blooms we are currently experiencing in our area required camp counselors at Sanibel Sea School to improvise daily during Crocs and Gators Week and Needlefish Week. Campers were unable to engage in water-based activities, so camp staff organized many inland games and experiences, often with help from fellow non-profits and businesses on Sanibel.

“Thanks to our community, camp participants were able to enjoy a great week of camp despite the poor water conditions,” said counselor Sam Lucas. Activities included art and games at Sanibel Sea School’s Flagship Campus and Sundial Beach Resort & Spa location, as well as field trips to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s visitor center and wildlife drive, SCCF, and Periwinkle Park Campground. “We’re so grateful to everyone who invited us to visit and offered to help in other ways,” Lucas added.

Counselors also organized lessons to help campers better understand harmful algal blooms and why they occur. Each group collected a water sample using a plankton net, then used a microscope to look for Karenia brevis (red tide) cells. A sample collected at the Buttonwood Lane bayside beach access contained a high concentration of cells.

Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit sanibelseaschool.org.

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Water Quality: Make Your Voice Heard

Below you will find a list of representatives to contact about our water quality issues. Take a few minutes to share your thoughts with them via phone, email, or snail mail. Not sure what to write? Here are a few ideas:

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Why do Plankton Bloom?

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Why do Plankton Bloom?

Why do Plankton Bloom?

Phytoplankton live in an extremely uncertain world.  The ocean is very spatially and temporally heterogenous – it can be thought of as a 3-D patchwork quilt, with fairly distinct bodies of water adjacent to, but not fully mixing with, one another…

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What are Blue-green Algae?

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What are Blue-green Algae?

Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae are bacteria are capable of carrying out photosynthesis, they are classified as cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria are extremely diverse and different species occupy almost all habitable locations on Earth…


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What is Red Tide?

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What is Red Tide?

We want to help people understand the ocean. This is the first installment of a series to inform people about red tide and harmful algal blooms currently affecting Southwest Florida.

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New Vessel Delivered to Sanibel Sea School

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New Vessel Delivered to Sanibel Sea School

Sanibel Sea School recently signed for the delivery of a new boat, called The Ripple Effect. The 25’ custom built Trident pontoon can access shallow areas that are great for wading and snorkeling, and will be used during the organization’s educational marine science programs…

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Calusa Week at Sanibel Sea School

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Calusa Week at Sanibel Sea School

Calusa Week, a week in celebration of the Native Americans who were the earliest known inhabitants of Florida’s southwest coast, is a favorite among Sanibel Sea School campers each summer. The Calusa were fierce, strong seafarers and their history can teach us many things about how to coexist with the sea. Participants explored their culture from various angles, retracing their footsteps to become young ocean warriors…

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Adventures on Big Pine Key

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Adventures on Big Pine Key

During Coral Reef Week 2, a group of 35 13-15 year olds (along with a whole crew of Sanibel Sea School staff members) ventured to Big Pine Key for a week of camping and coral reef exploration. We thought it would be best if they told you about it themselves…

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A Whale Shark Mystery

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A Whale Shark Mystery

Last week, one of our most majestic sea creatures, a 26’ whale shark, washed ashore dead on Sanibel Island. Whale sharks are the largest species of fish on the planet, and they are filter feeders, meaning they strain plankton from the ocean – the proverbial gentle giant…

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Sanibel Salad: Sea Purslane

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Sanibel Salad: Sea Purslane

When your mind is focused on setting up for a day at the beach, it can be easy to overlook the vegetation as you make your way to the sand. But next time you venture through the dunes, look down and you’ll probably spot a patch or two of beautiful sea purslane. This edible plant is not only delicious (when prepared properly), it is also native to Sanibel and plays an important role in Florida’s coastal ecosystem. Read on to learn more…

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Hatchling Week for the Little Ones at Sanibel Sea School

A group of tiny campers, ages 4-6, recently attended Hatchling Week at Sanibel Sea School. The week was dedicated to learning about baby animals that begin life in an egg – like shorebirds, sea turtles, and alligators. Participants had fun building nests, playing games, and celebrating some of Sanibel’s cutest creatures.

Hatchling campers played a matching game to identify different types of animal eggs, screeched like young alligators calling for their mamas during an exciting round of Hide and Seek Gator, and ran an egg and spoon relay race.

Sea turtle hatchlings must emerge from their nests and make a short but challenging journey to the sea, so campers played “Escape to the Sea” to find out what that must be like. They also made egg art, tested different ways to protect eggs from breaking, went snorkeling, and looked at fish eggs under a microscope.

As usual, there was also plenty of surfboard paddling, macramé tying, and time spent with camp friends. Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit sanibelseaschool.org

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Sanibel Sea School Launches Fundraiser for A Safer Sanibel

 Sanibel Sea School's vehicles are often parked in public areas where the need for an AED could arise. 

Sanibel Sea School's vehicles are often parked in public areas where the need for an AED could arise. 

Sanibel Sea School has launched an internet-based campaign to raise the funds necessary to purchase automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for each of the organization’s vehicles and boats. AEDs are an essential piece of life saving first-aid equipment, used to treat victims of sudden cardiac arrest by restoring the heart’s normal rhythm.

“All of our educators are trained and certified as emergency first responders,” said Sanibel Sea School’s development director, Chrissy Basturk. “They spend almost every day exploring the island with kids, and they have a wide presence on public beaches as well as on the water. They want to contribute to making Sanibel safer by having AEDs readily available in case of an emergency situation,” she added. Each vehicle and boat would be clearly marked to let the public know that the machine is available on board. 

We hope we will never need to use an AED to treat a client or a citizen, but we also realize that it could mean the difference between life and death.
— Emmett Horvath, Marine Science Educator

Basturk explained that marine educator Emmett Horvath first approached her with the idea. Horvath felt strongly that he and other teachers should have access to a full range of life saving tools. “Safety is our number one priority at Sanibel Sea School, and we take it very seriously. Our training is much less effective without the proper equipment,” Horvath said.

According to Tim Barrett, Training Captain at the Sanibel Fire Department, sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. More than 350,000 cases occur outside of the hospital each year, and only 12 percent of those victims survive. A fast first-aid response is key. “It is important for companies and organizations to implement AED programs so employees are prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency,” said Barrett.

 Sanibel Sea School's educators, including Emmett Horvath (pictured), would like to equip the organization's vehicles and boats with AEDs.

Sanibel Sea School's educators, including Emmett Horvath (pictured), would like to equip the organization's vehicles and boats with AEDs.

“We hope we will never need to use an AED to treat a client or a citizen, but we also realize that it could mean the difference between life and death. This project is really about supporting our community members,” said Horvath.

Sanibel Sea School has created a fundraising page on Mightycause.com, and donations can be made with just a few clicks. To learn more and contribute, please visit mightycause.com/story/asafersanibel

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